In the March edition of Texas Co-op Power Magazine, I talked about the importance of employing energy efficient technologies and practices when it comes to managing the cost of your electric bill. Each month on your electric bill, GVEC passes through transmission costs charged by ERCOT, the statewide transmission operator. Each utility is charged for the use of the statewide transmission system based upon its share of the peak demand for electricity at the ERCOT level during the months of June, July, August and September. Although no one knows precisely on which days those four coincidental peaks of energy usage will occur, they typically happen after there have been several hot days in a row and usually between 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. It is advantageous for GVEC to attempt to lower its demand during this period and thereby lower its transmission cost that is passed on to you.

In a further effort to lower these costs, GVEC is seeking your help. We will soon be rolling out a progressive new program in partnership with the Nest brand learning thermostats that will allow you to do just that. The good news is that not only will you be able to help lower our transmission costs, but GVEC is willing to pay you to do so.

The new program will be known as GVEC’s Rush Hour Rewards program. Here’s how it works:

In our region of South Central Texas, heating and air conditioning units use more electricity than any other appliance in our homes—around 1.5 kW per hour or approximately 50 percent of your electric bill. Many of you may have heard of or already own a Nest thermostat; these Wi-Fi enabled devices were specifically designed to learn your heating and cooling patterns and save electricity while you are away from home. According to Nest, these thermostats have the ability to cut your electric bill by 15 to 20 percent during the summer months.

With your agreement, GVEC’s Rush Hour Rewards program will harness these Nest thermostats in order to lower your transmission costs. During summer peak energy events, GVEC will issue instructions to these Nest devices which will pre-cool your home by lowering the temperature setting during the hours leading up to the Rush Hour event. Then, the temperature setting will be raised on the thermostat at the time of the event, shutting off your unit during the ERCOT peak demand period. By pre-cooling your home, the temperature will remain at a comfortable level throughout the peak event, even though the unit will not be running. Because the unit will not be running during the ERCOT peak event, GVEC’s demand will be lowered, thereby lowering GVEC’s overall transmission cost.

To participate in this new program, GVEC will be offering a one-time $85 rebate for signing up, along with a $30 credit after each summer you participate in the program. For those of you who don’t already own a Nest thermostat, but are interested in earning the incentive while also saving money on your electric bill each month, you can purchase the Nest learning thermostats from any GVEC office.

I encourage each of you to take advantage of this new Rush Hour Rewards program. It can help to lower your electric bill each month, and you will get paid just for participating!

I am always interested in your comments and feedback. Contact me by phone at 830.857.1152, by email at or by mail at P.O. Box 118, Gonzales, Texas, 78629.

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